How to make friends and influence people at farmers markets.
We’ve all heard that one of the benefits of farmers markets is that you can get to know the people who produce your food. But how to get started? For some people, especially new shoppers, the whole environment can be intimidating—everyone seems to know so much about food already or it can seem like they already all know each other. Here are a few ways to start conversations and build connections at your local farmers market.
1. Find the information table
Certified or producer-only markets tend to have an organization that puts it together and vets the farmers and vendors who sell there, and that organization usually has a booth or table set up. The people there—either volunteers or staff members—will know the market like nobody else and are ready and willing to answer any questions you have. Here is where you can also learn about any cooking demos, chef talks, and other public events. You can also find out if the market lets you use a credit or EBT card to get farmers market scrip, or if it offers other services like parking validation.
2. Say hello to the vendors
It sounds simple, but it’s easy to forget in this age of internet shopping and self-checkout that when you walk up to a stand at the farmers market you can (and should!) say “hello” to whoever is behind the table.
3. Ask questions
Pleasantries are great, but more meaningful interaction is easy to get to. Go for what’s right there in front of you and ask questions about what they’re selling (which is what they’ve spent a fair amount of time growing or making). What do they like about it? How is it doing this year? How do they like to prepare it? What might they have coming up next?
4. Share your perspective
Did you buy some berries last week that took your strawberry fool recipe to new heights of sweet deliciousness? Try a new way of roasting carrots? Slather that baker’s bread with butter from the local dairy? Share your culinary experiences with the people bringing them to you.
5. Talk to your fellow shoppers
This may be next-level for some people, while it’s second-nature to others, but if you see someone looking quizzically at a bunch of purple carrots, share your favorite way to cook them. Or, if someone is buying a flat of shelling beans, they may be a good source for shelling bean recipes—consider asking them their plans. Talking to your fellow shoppers is a particularly effective way to create community, especially at smaller markets.
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